For those of you who missed it, on Tuesday (October 31), I had the honor of posting one of my favorite poems, "Dry Hill." The following is a bit of the Q & A I recently conducted with the poem's author, Michael Radcliff.
Q: Do you have any formal training as a poet?
A: No. I took a couple of creative writing courses in college. I think they were with Berry Morgan. Maybe Ellen Douglass. (Maybe both.) That was a long time ago! Poetry was certainly not the focus, but it seem that those were the only creative writing classes to be had. You take what you can get, I guess.
Q: Can you tell me where your poems have been published?
A: Mostly in a few, now-defunct small magazines: Poet Magazine, Artbeat Magazine and a couple of others. Every magazine that has published my stuff has gone out of business. Do you think that's a bad sign?
Q: Have you won any awards for your work?
A: I got a couple of Honorable Mentions and Special Merits. My poem "Land of Childhood" won grand the Grand Prize in Poet Magazine's 1st John David Johnson Memorial Competition. It's funny, I Googled that competition the other day and saw a few people who had won or placed in that competition in the years following and I thought . . .dang . . . I won it too and I don't even have a writing resume!
Q: What inspired you to write "Dry Hill"?
A: I think what brought it on was a realization of my parent's partnership. How they revolved around each other and worked together to get . . or make what they wanted. I think this really sunk in when I saw how they took a little fisherman's cabin and a piece of land and working together turned it into a home. Shortly after they moved there, I was home for a visit and helping my mother get something out of the car. She grabbed me and motioned off to one side. There was a beauftiful doe coming out of the woods. She went right across the front yard and down to the lake. Anyway, trying to tie my folks to that place came out as "Dry Hill".
Q: So, there really is a place called Dry Hill?
A: No. Well, there is to us. We jokingly referred to their place as Dry Hill because it seemed like it would rain everywhere but up on the hill. I remember standing there watching it rain out on the road without a drop ever hitting up at the house. My folks moved from there several years ago, but I talked to my Dad last week and he said it had been raining . . . everywhere except at the house. So, I guess wherever they go is "Dry Hill".
Q: Do you have a favorite poet and/or a favorite poem?
A: Robert Frost. "Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening." I have been in the woods, in the dark, when it's snowing. There is nothing more serene.
Much love goes out to Michael for agreeing to be the OSM's first guest poet! I'd like to thank, as well, all of you who read and, in particular, those of you who were kind enough to respond. Later Y'all.